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SANTIAGO sold to Italy

I just sold Santiago to Italy’s Edizioni della Vigna. If you’ll check the bibliography section here, you’ll see that this is the 21st time I’ve sold it, excluding the endlessly renewed movie options.

I knew, back in 1984, that I wanted to create a myth of the far future. Then one day Carol saw a movie on TV, rented it at the store the next day, and sat me down in front of it to listen to a 45-second speech she’d moved the tape ahead to. The film was Sergio Leone’s Duck, You Sucker!, which has since been retitled A Fistful of Dynamite. In it, James Coburn plays a betrayed and disillusioned IRA revolutionary, an explosives expert who is now working for the Emperor Maximillian in Mexico. And in this brief speech, he explains that once he believed in truth and justice and loyalty and the IRA, and now all he believes in is the dynamite.” That was all the impetus I needed. You won’t find the line or even the situation in the novel, but without Carol sitting me down to listen to it, there would have been no Santiago.

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Hugo-winning story to DragonCon

The forthcoming DragonCon Progress Report will reprint my 2005 Hugo winner, “Travels With My Cats”.

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The Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues #13: Pseudonyms

NOTE: this article first appeared in the pages of SFWA Bulletin 153, Spring, 2002.

MIKE: There have always been fads and trends in writing, and especially in science fiction. The current trend—and it’s one I find very disturbing—is to use a pseudonym at the drop of a hat.

Changing from horror to SF? Change your name.

Changing from hard SF to soft SF? Change your name.

Want to write a mystery novel? Change your name.

Did your last book tank? Change your name.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it works. Megan Lindholm (everybody’s favorite example) has to be very happy that she became Robin Hobb. Piers Anthony Jacob has been living on the various bestseller lists as Piers Anthony for more than a quarter of a century.

But I would submit that Lindholm/Hobb is an exception, and Anthony/Jacob doesn’t really qualify since he has always written as Piers Anthony.

This is not to say there aren’t valid reasons to write under a pseudonym. I’ve done it hundreds of times for what I consider the most valid reason of all.

In my starving writer days, I wrote and sold a couple of hundred anonymous novels which we shall euphemistically define as “the kind men like”. I was not proud of them. They were written for editors who didn’t want it good, they wanted it Thursday. (A lot of aging SWFAns—far more than you might think—labored in those fields 30 to 40 years ago.) I never spent more than 4 days to turn out one of these 55,000-word masterpieces; I felt that after 96 hours my brain would turn to putty and run out my ears. I never wanted to meet anyone who bought and read one. And since I viewed these books as “Product” rather than Art—and to me, that disqualifies them from any claim to literature—I didn’t wish to be identified with them by anyone except the person who made out the checks, so I used a pseudonym. I also used one on the seven monthly tabloids (like The National Inquirer, only worse) that I packaged.
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Fish story

Just sold — well, re-sold — “The Gefilte Fish Girl” to Unidentified Funny Objects 3, which will be out next November.

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The Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues #12: Electronic Publishing

NOTE: this article first appeared in the pages of SFWA Bulletin 152, Winter, 2001.

ALSO: This Dialogue was written at the dawn of the serious e-publishing age, more than a dozen years ago. It was true and accurate for its time, but you should know that we tackled the subject again perhaps a decade later, and that column will eventually show up here. — Mike, 22 DEC 2013

MIKE: Welcome to the 21st Century. Not much has changed. Magazines haven’t upped their rates. Neither have book publishers. Science fiction movies are still pretty awful.

But suddenly, finally, electronic rights are starting to look like they’re finally worth fighting over when your publisher makes his inevitable grab for them—and from what I can glean, just about every publisher in the business is grabbing with both hands these days, even though they have no idea what to do with them.

For the period of 1994-1999, I got perhaps one solicitation per week from a different start-up web publisher. They were all the same: they would make me rich tomorrow if I’d just give them stuff for free today. Just about every one of them is dead and mostly unmourned.

But in late 1999, people starting paying for e-rights. The one I mourn the most is Galaxyonline.com. They bought tons of articles—1,000 words minimum for $500 US, which meant if you wrote the minimum wordage you got 50 cents US a word—and they had some of the best writers in the field: Silverberg, Haldeman, McCaffrey, Benford, Rusch, etc. I originally agreed to write one article a month for them; within a few weeks they had asked for two a month, and their checks were good as gold. Ben Bova was the publisher, and M. Shayne Bell and Rick Wilber, both accomplished gentlemen with long histories in the field, were his assistants. They even began publishing fiction—and then, by Labor Day, they were moribund.
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The Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues #11: Influences (bad)

NOTE: this article first appeared in the pages of SFWA Bulletin 151, Fall, 2001.

MIKE: Well, last issue we discussed Good Influences, which always makes us feel warm and friendly about the field. So I suppose it’s only fair that this issue we tackle what is probably the more important half of the coin: bad influences. I know your cheery good nature rebels against such a topic, but steel yourself.

In fact, I’ll give you a few moments to get in gear by naming the first two.

And, despite the fact that our best-known award is named after him, and despite the fact that he is universally known as The Father of Science Fiction, the foremost culprit on my list of Bad Influences has to be Hugo Gernsback.

Why?
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Sherlock

I just sold (well, re-sold) “The Adventure of the Pearly Gates”. which covers the missing years after Holmes and Moriarty go over the Falls at Reichenbach, to Wildside Press for their Sherlock Holmes Megapack.

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Super Sale!

http://www.bookbale.com/

Here you go: e-books by Heinlein, Herbert, Lackey & Norton, Anderson, Kress, Sawyer, Haldeman, and me, for a price of your own choosing. Give it a look!

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Another STARSHIP book to Italy

I just sold Italian rights to Starship: Rebel to Mondadori, the Italian publisher that has already purchased Italian rights to Strship: Mutiny, Starship: Pirate, and Starship: Mercenary. Mondadori has been publishing me in Italy since the early 1980s, and I’ve very glad to continue our long-time relationship.

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The Resnick/Malzberg Dialogues #10: Influences (good)

NOTE: this article first appeared in the pages of SFWA Bulletin 150, Summer, 2001.

MIKE: Literary influences are a tricky thing to detect; Sam Moskowitz proved that by being wrong so many times about so many writers.

But perhaps they’re a little easier to detect when considering the field as a whole, rather than any individual writers.

We go back more than a century now, no matter how you define our beginnings. There’s Wells and Verne back there in our prehistory, Mary Shelly surely, and you’d probably have to include H. Rider Haggard. There are less obvious ones, like George Allen England, and some who are wildly popular yet scorned by the academics, such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Doc Smith.

There are “Golden Age” writers galore—Heinlein, Asimov, Hubbard, de Camp, Simak, Kuttner, Clarke. There are the New Wavers and the literary craftsmen—Ballard, Silverberg, Ellison, yourself, Spinrad. There’s certainly William Gibson.

Among the editors, for better or worse, there’s Gernsback, Campbell, Boucher, Gold, Merrill, Moorcock, Judy-Lynn del Rey, Dozois, a ton of others.

We’ll save the Bad Influences (and the outraged screams, and the threat of lawsuits) until next issue. This time we’ll concentrate on the Good ones.

So, off the top of your head, who are the very best (as influences, not necessarily as writers or editors), and why?
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